Oh we’re interested in the fall playlist? As December moves into full holiday swing, and we’re on the crux of winter, here is what I have been streaming in hi rez or playing on the turntable. No, none of it’s holiday music.

We already know that I have a thing for breathy female vocals and downtempo vibes. Especially with these singers. Now I’ve just gone overboard on the pop sugar madness of soft rock for GenZ.

The Marias
I discovered them by accident several years ago at a bar in downtown LA. Followed them on SoundCloud and now their first full album is stunning. I want to write more but as a reader told me this summer, I write too much. I have the earlier work on vinyl, but the latest relese in Hi-Rez streams on Qobuz and is legit with the right Dac.

Men I Trust
Oncle Jazz
A gem of soft whispers and gentle landings. I discovered them at a bar in NYC sometime in 2015. Then KCRW couldn’t stop playing them. For good reason. I do have the 10th pressing of this double LP. None of the vinyl is a quality listening experience. They look great, but the sound ‘aint there. Stream it on Qubuz.

These are sounds from artists that can really move you. More space between the notes. More swagger. More emotion. Mostly, because they can fucking play.

Lady Blackbird
Black Acid Soul
Marley Munroe is stunning in ability and presentation. Jaw dropping, old world ability in a new world package. Not young. My generation. That’s important in a youth obsessed business. I first heard her in Los Angeles years ago and you could tell she was just waiting for the right opportunity. Her persona as Lady Blackbird is just this side of perfection. Grace Jones in style and a voice near perfect. She streams on Qobuz. YouTube has a few of her live performances which are even more breathtaking. For the lush soft pop sounds of the above artists, Lady Blackbird is a serious jolt of throaty raw ability. It’s serious music. Nobody could hang on her bandstand from the above list. She’s that strong. She’s been waiting a long time. You shouldn’t wait anymore.

Seamus Blake
Guardians Of The Heart Machine
I met Seamus when we were students at Berklee. Since I wrote about who could hang on who’s bandstand above… Let me be clear: I could never hang on his bandstand. For the first time in years, I saw him live at Smalls in NYC at the beginning of fall. Fucking Monster. (outside his show pictured above) He was playing new material for an upcoming album and both sets from the second night at Smalls are on Youtube: Click To Watch.

In the meantime he’s got a wonderful sounding double LP vinyl on the rather difficult label Whirlwind. It also streams on Tidal. No, this is not pop fluff, but this is an approachable album if you’re not used to this kind of music.

Donny Hathaway
Extensions Of A Man
If you ever wondered what Amy Winehouse was referring to in the track “Rehab” here you go. On the album Live! He covers the Carol King song, You’ve Got A Friend. It’s recorded at the Troubadour, in 1972. When the audience joins in singing with him… the goosebumps are real. Leave it to an LA audience to sound so damn good. The new re issue Vinyl is quite good. The Tidal stream may be better.

On the album Extensions Of A Man, the track “Someday We’ll All Be Free“ is about as perfect of a song as ever written. I own the vinyl. It took four expensive copies to find a good one. Stream on Tidal, instead of hunting record stacks or buying from collectors.

Christian McBride & Inside Straight
Live At The Village Vanguard
A LOT has been written and said about McBride. Thats because he has been the shit for a really long time. I first heard him with Roy Hargrove when they were calling him a young lion. That was 31 years ago. Nothing has changed. Well... maybe a little has changed, but that kind of nuance is not what this is about.

This album is straight up swinging hard bop. (for the most part) It sounds both old and new at the same time. The changes are intersting harmonically and the solos are solid. The band is well knitted in presentation. The use of vibraphone is all over the tracks and in the past I would have turned it off in a heart beat. When done right, the vibraphone can be a smokey mystery or a bright ray of light in a composition. Done wrong, you feel like you are listening to the Sunday brunch house band at a freeway hotel, in the suburbs. Well ...This 'aint that. Warren Wolf kills and for the most part I only feel like I am at ...maybe a Sandals resort dinner a couple of times. No suburban afternoon hotel brunch vibes to be found at all. But that indictment is more about me than anything else. Steve Wilson's "Ms. Angelou" is a a great composition and gives enough air for the band to breathe around the changes. You can hear the room and the players.

Recorded in December, 2014 and just released, it feels like this album should have come out before the 2015 Trio Live At The Village Vanguard release. At any rate, the vinyl is on pre order, but the Qobuz stream is solid. Audience participation is reminiscent of the crowds during the Vanguard Mel Lewis/Thad Jones era. You get a solid hard swinging band with a great audience. It is a glimpse into what a live show can be like.

Well. There it is. I know. Too wordy as usual. Next spring I will recap what winter brings for those interested. And frankly, for those un interested.